If Nintendo's conference was all about nostalgia and Microsoft's was all about Kinect, Sony was all about 3D and motion control. After Avatar did big business, the third dimension is what the PlayStation 3 is staking the future on. CEO Jack Tretton hosted two hours of some impressive surprises and some confusing moments. Here's the complete rundown.
Everybody in the audience was outfitted with 3D glasses to fully experience the Killzone 3 demo. It's easy to be jaded about this technology as just another gimmick, but the game looked fantastic, and the extra dimensionality seriously added to the immersiveness. Unfortunately, the problem with this transition period is going to mean that games will all have to bridge the gap between 2D and 3D for the forseeable future, meaning that games that really take advantage of what 3D provides on a deeper level will be a long time coming. Excitement level: 7/10.
We saw some other games with full 3D support, including the eternally delayed Gran Turismo 5, Motorstorm Apocalypse, and The Sly Collection, a remastered set of the cult classic Sly Cooper games for the PS2.
Next up was the PlayStation Move, Sony's new Wii-esque motion control product. It's pretty much what you expect - a wand controller with a ball on the end that tracks your motion, but it all seems kind of primitive next to Kinext. The first game they showed was Sorcery, an obviously Harry Potter-inspired title that has you casting spells with your Move wand against a number of supernatural enemies. Also shown was Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, which basically mimicked the Wii Motion Plus control scheme from the already-released game. The big problem is that there was nothing here that hadn't been done on the Wii years before, and the crowd was pretty mild. Excitement level: 3/10.
Things just got worse when Kevin Butler took the stage to take shots at the competition, announcing that "Move changes everything." The pricing was then announced - $49.99 for the Move controller. $29.99 for the navigation controller. And, since it requires the PlayStation Eye (another $39.99), the total cost to get into Move is over $100 for one player - and you can get a new Wii for $150. Excitement level: 0/10.
We then shifted over to the PSP for a few titles, including God Of War: Ghost Of Sparta, which looks promising, and Invizimals, a virtual pet raising game that uses the PSP's camera. Oh, remember that PSP Go that doesn't have a camera? Bet you feel dumb for buying that. Excitement level: 3/10.
In the digital realm, Sony stepped into the arena against Xbox Live with PlayStation Plus, a $50 a year subscription service that seems like Xbox Live Gold - demos, beta invitations, freebies, and the like - you know, all the things that the PlayStation Network promised for free when they launched. This came off as nothing but a shallow cash grab, and the audience was really unimpressed. Excitement level: 0/10.
Things got back on track with LittleBigPlanet 2, with the guys from Media Molecule taking the stage to demonstrate the vastly expanded potential for creation in the sequel - racing games, shooters, and even a sumo wrestling game were shown. Hopefully the new options won't overwhelm the ease of use that made the first one a killer app for the system. Excitement level: 7/10.
We then ran through a slate of new games, including Dead Space 2, Infamous 2, the new Medal Of Honor and Portal 2. Valve's Gabe Newell announced that the PS3 version of Portal 2 is the best-looking of all the versions. With the announcement of Steam for the PS3, Valve seems committed to the system after the disaster that was the console Orange Box. Excitement level: 6/10.
Sony then closed big, with Twisted Metal creators David Jaffe and Scott Campbell driving on stage in a replica of killer clown Sweet Tooth's truck to announce an all-new next-gen Twisted Metal series. The pair demonstrated the game's awesome-looking multiplayer mode and showed off the classic sense of humor that made the original games such classics, and the keynote closed strong despite some stumbles.